“Don’t do anything you’ll regret later.”
When I was 20, I couldn’t imagine anything except living a bold life that was free of regret. I had unbounded faith in my ability to conquer whatever the world threw at me. I was in my forties when the summation of my life began to take shape and hit me like a Mack truck. I’ve been treading water in a sea of regret ever since. It hasn’t been pretty. It’s been a full-blown mid-life crisis.
The thing that fascinates me most is that my regrets are strongly associated with decisions and behaviors rooted in fear (so much for bold living) or shallowness. (Hey, I didn’t know I was shallow!) Not being honest about who I was or what I believed. Not giving those great guys a chance. Not spending quality time with family and friends. Not trusting my intuition when push came to shove (true intuition is never wrong.) Not putting more effort into school or at least seeking out a good coach to guide me towards creating the best possible foundation for my life.
There are many things I wish I would have done differently. But without changing who I was at the time, I’m confident I would always make the same decisions, landing me in the same late-onset regret hangover.
And while I no longer have the advantage of ample time, energy, or optimal neural transmissions to go to, for example, medical school, or start a new career, go on a year-long working holiday, etc, I have enough insight into the nature of my regrets to change my life in seemingly small but emotionally and spiritually significant ways. I’m confident that courage and authenticity will be the best life preservers I can cling to into my golden years. But I’ll double-check that line of thinking just in case…